Goodbye Europe

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our last day in Freiburg began with an exquisite breakfast. The restaurant provided the most delicious bacon I have ever eaten. After that fine dining, the group rallied for our 3 hour bicycle tour through the city and surrounding localities of Freiburg. A local architect was our guide, and his knowledge of the city encompassing its energy and transportation use was unsurpassable. We stopped at various locations to discuss systems like solar photovoltaics, hydrogen, district energy, as well as Passiv Haus standardized buildings. We also experienced Freiburg from a cyclist’s perception. The city is very bike friendly and nearly all streets either have low speed limits for cars or separate bicycle infrastructure, such as bike lanes. The tour also took us to the outskirts of the city into areas that we could not easily access by public transport. The guide showed us pioneering low energy houses and energy plus houses—the tour even included low energy public housing.

After the tour, we walked through old town to eat at a local beer garden, which is a fantastic place to sit and have lunch during a hot day. Bellies full, a portion of the group decided to ascend Castle Mountain through the black forest to the tower on top. 288 stairs later and profusely sweating, we arrived at the foot of the tower, which in itself had even more stairs assembled in a loosely fit metal spiral staircase. At the top were great skylines and views of the city and the surrounding mountains and forests. The tower however was assembled with large, nay colossal trees and therefore swayed enough to make me absolutely uncomfortable. Despite my fear, the experience was worth the climb.

Finally descending the mountain, it was time for our last group, or what has come to be a family, dinner. We ate at a nice German restaurant with English menus, which were very convenient. I had a steak from cattle herded in the Black forest and it was delicious. Good conversation and camaraderie followed and then our last night out in the city began.

This study abroad trip has created some memorable events, great friends, and lasting lessons; I can’t believe a month has gone by so quickly. I’m ready for home, but I’ll miss Europe. This is Colin Welch, and I’m signing out: Freiburg, Germany. I had a blast.

Guest Contributor:  Colin Welch

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